The Olympics has provided many great moments over the years. One of my abiding childhood memories is that of Alan Wells, winning gold, in the 100m. It was 1980, the Games were held in Moscow, and when Wells crossed the line, in first place, this wee Scottish lad and his wee Scottish pal, who were watching the race together, went absolutely mad!
Perhaps one of the most moving Olympic moments happened in Barcelona in 1992. Derek Redmond, a British 400m runner was in blistering form. Having posted the fastest qualifying time in the first round, he went on to win his quarter-final. All the signs were that his hard-work and training would pay a dividend in the form of Olympic gold! He started the semi-final well, going off very fast, but with about 250m still to run his hamstring snapped forcing him to pull up, his body wracked with pain. Absolutely devastated but determined to finish Redmond began to hobble towards the finish. By now the rest of the athletes had finished, and track officials tried to steer him off the track but with a grimace on his face Redmond shrugged them off and continued towards the line. That, in itself, was heart-wrenching, but then the television cameras picked up an older man, who left his seat in the stand and climbed over the barrier onto the track. Pushing past an official, he jogged over to Redmond, put his arm around him and helped him across the line. The man was Redmond’s father, and it was incredibly moving to watch as he drew alongside his son and helped him to finish the race.
The Bible introduces God as, ‘the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort’ (2 Corinthians chapter 1, verse 3), and this is a fascinating ascription. The original Greek word, which is here translated ‘comfort’ literally means, one who draws alongside. The sense is that God Almighty is so involved with His people that He comes to us, puts His arm around us, and helps us to negotiate all of life’s circumstances, no matter how difficult they are. He is like a Father to us. He loves us, cares about us, and is determined to help us run the race of life all the way to its end.
We both know how difficult life can be. Things can seem to be going well when, all of a sudden, the unexpected happens and we find our hopes and dreams in tatters. How reassuring, then, to know that we are not without help. God is by our side. His arms are outstretched, and with His help we can finish well.